The BMW Championship was introduced to the PGA Tour schedule in 2007 when it replaced the Western Open to become the third leg of the brand-new FedEx Cup Playoff Series. The Western Open dated all the way back to 1899 and only the Open Championship and US Open go back further.
The format of the Playoff Series changed in 2019 with only three events instead of four so following the FedEx St Jude Championship at TPC Southwind, the BMW Championship is restricted to the top-70 in the FedEx Cup standings only and following this event, the standings are recalculated again and only the top-30 advance to the series deciding Tour Championship at East Lake next week.
With two missing from the top-70 in the standings, only 68 will line-up on Thursday.
Tommy Fleetwood, who's ranked 56, has decided to sit out the event, so he won't advance to East Lake but Cam Smith, number three in the standings, will, provided his injured hip is ok by next week.
There will be no 36-hole cut this week so all 68 players will play all four rounds.
The South Course, Wilmington Country Club, Wilmington, Delaware
The BMW Championship moves to a new course each year and we're off to the South Course at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware this time around, a 60-year-old Robert Trent Jones Sr designed track that can be stretched to as long as 7, 534 yards.
The South Course has been renovated a couple of times, and most recently just after Wilmington was asked to host the BMW, when a tornado ripped through the site and took out as many as 300 trees in March 2020.
It's a tree-lined parkland course with fairly generous bentgrass fairways. Water is in-play on only four holes, the primary rough (fescue and bluegrass mixed) begins at four inches tall and the huge greens, which will run at 12.5 on the Stimpmeter, are protected by equally large bunkers.
Justin Thomas is the only player in the field with any official experience of the course as he played in the Palmer Cup here in 2013.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, beginning with Red Button coverage at 15:00 on Thursday
Last Six BMW Winners with Pre-Event Exchange Odds
2021 - Patrick Cantlay -27 (playoff) 27.026/1
2020 - Jon Rahm -4 (playoff) 12.011/1
2019 - Justin Thomas -25 16.015/1
2018 - Keegan Bradley -20 (playoff) 210.0209/1
2017 - Marc Leishman -23 55.054/1
2016 - Dustin Johnson -23 11.010/1
Is There an Angle In?
It may make sense to side with players who have found form very recently.
Having missed the cut in the Open Championship, Patrick Cantlay finished tied for 23rd at the WGC FedEx St Jude and tied 11th in the Northern Trust before winning this event 12 months ago.
In 2020, Jon Rahm had finished sixth in The Northern Trust the week before he won this event - beating the Northern Trust winner, Dustin Johnson, in a playoff - and the 2019 winner, Justin Thomas, had finished inside the top-12 in each of his previous four starts. They were all big events, so he was bang in-form and in the old format, when this event was the third of four FedEx Cup Playoff Series events (up until 2018) all the winners had been in really good form.
Keegan Bradley took the title in 2018 having finished 42nd at the USPGA, 34th in the Northern Trust and 49th at the now defunct, Dell Technologies, in his three previous starts but he'd been fourth at the Canadian Open before that, so his win didn't come entirely out of the blue, and he's very much the outlier.
In addition to Cantlay, Rahm and Thomas, the first 11 winners of this event had all shown something recently.
Incredibly, 10 of the 11 had finished inside the top-10 in either of the first two FedEx Cup Series events. The only exception had been Zach Johnson at Conway Farms in 2013 but he'd been in fine fettle before the series began and prior to finishing 27th in the Dell Technologies, after skipping the Northern Trust, he'd finished fifth in the Wyndham Championship.
If you want to nail that down further, the 2017 winner, Marc Leishman, was the seventh winner in 11 years to have finished inside the top-three in one of the first two Playoff events, although interestingly, nobody ever won the BMW having finished inside the top-10 in both previous Playoff events.
Being in fair recent form has been essential and the first 11 tournament winners had all finished inside the top-10 in one of their two previous starts. That run ended in 2018 but given Thomas had finished ninth in the Scottish Open and Bradley fourth in Canada, every single winner of this event, except Cantlay last year, had recorded a top-10 in one of their four previous starts.
Cantlay still had fair form figures reading T13-MC-T23-T11 so it appears you simply can't win this one if you're not in some sort of form.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Keegan Bradley was very much a surprise winner four years ago. He came into the event ranking 52nd in the FedEx Cup standings and he was a 210.0209/1 chance before the off but he's the only big outsider to take the title so far.
Looking back over the event's history, with the possible exception of Camilo Villegas 14 years ago, whose price I can't recall or find, we hadn't seen any wild outsiders before Bradley and five of the last seven winners have been very prominent in the market. Leishman was matched at 55.054/1 before the off five years ago but the two winners before him were first and second favourites, Thomas was the third favourite in 2019, the second favourite, Rahm, beat the favourite, DJ, in extra-time in 2020 and Cantlay was a solid 27.026/1 chance 12 months ago.
Low scoring likely
With the exception of the memorable 2020 edition around the North Course at Olympia Fields, although the tournament has moved around, the scoring tends to be very low and we can probably expect yet another birdie-fest.
It doesn't appear an overly complicated layout so another wining score of 20+ under-par is likely.
Rory McIlroy heads the market despite last week's missed cut in Memphis and while he'll enjoy a low scoring birdie-fest, he may not have knocked enough rust off last week following his break after the Open championship.
Jon Rahm has had a slow year by his standards, winning only the Mexico Open in May, but he caught the eye last week when finishing fifth and ranking first for both Greens In Regulation and Scrambling.
Ordinary putting and the distraction of the birth of his second son are reasons we can put forward for a lacklustre 2022. But he looks poised to put that behind him this week and he's the most likely winner for me.
Like Rory, world number one, Scottie Scheffler, had an enforced weekend off last week and he's not really fired since finishing tied for second alongside last week's winner, Will Zalatoris, in the US Open in June, putting up form figures reading 13-MC-21-MC.
The main reason for Scheffler's slight downturn is the putter, which he was getting very frustrated with in Memphis, but if he finds the answer to his woes on the dancefloor he's the man to beat.
Last week's winner, Will Zalatoris, could very easily run hot and go in again now he's finally off the mark and I prefer his chances to those of the US Open winner, Matt Fitzpatrick, who's a slightly shorter price.
This is a very competitive heat on a track we know little about so I've just had a tiny bet on Jon Rahm and I've got one for the Find Me a 100 Winner column tomorrow but that will do me before the off.
Jon Rahm @ 16.015/1
I'll be back tomorrow with the Find Me a 100 Winner column.
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